If you’re a pet owner who does not want to leave your furry friend behind when you go on vacation, take heart. You may find it easier than you think to bring your dog or cat along to share in the fun.

Of course, before making a decision, you want to make sure that your pet is comfortable with travel. Whether it’s due to age, health, temperament or even breed, not every animal is up to a trip, especially if it involves traveling by air or spending a lot of time in the car. So it’s a good idea to discuss your plans with your veterinarian.

Once you feel comfortable bringing your pet, make a checklist of items you’ll need. The American Veterinary Medical Association’s website has a list of frequently asked questions covering pet travel. For example, get a copy of the animal’s medical records, a health certificate, an adequate supply of medications, and the items that make your pet comfortable at home, like a special blanket, toys and food. Make sure your pet has an up-to-date identification tag, and consider getting a microchip implanted that provides a permanent ID. 

When it comes to flying with a pet, airlines will usually allow small dogs, cats and household birds to travel in the cabin, based on availability at time of booking, but they must fit in a small, ventilated pet carrier that fits under the seat in front of you. Other restrictions apply to larger animals, certain breeds of dogs and cats, and international flights. 

Many hotels will roll out the welcome mat for your dog, cat or other animal, providing amenities such as beds, water bowls, litter boxes, toys and treats. Your hotel concierge should have a list of nearby dog parks where your pet can get some exercise. 

Visiting a new city is one fun way to travel with your four-legged friend. You can explore various neighborhoods on long walks, taking in new sights, sounds and smells. In nice weather, many restaurants with outdoor seating will allow your dog to sit by your side as long as it’s on a leash. In many cities you’ll find activities you can do with your pet. For example, in San Francisco you can take your dog on a cruise that offers views of the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz. In Albuquerque, leashed pets are welcome on history and ghost tours of the Old Town. 

Beach vacations are another great choice if you’re bringing your dog. You’ll find places from Florida to California where you and your dog can run, swim and play in the sand. Some cities have dedicated beaches where your pet can run free and play with other dogs. Among the best known is the Original Dog Beach in San Diego, one of the first official leash-free beaches in the United States. 

For help planning a vacation with your pet, contact us; we’ll help you navigate airline regulations, pick out a pet-friendly hotel and find a destination where you’ll have a great time together.

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